Toy Review: Masters of the Universe Classics Snake Face

Mattel’s figure for April is the Masters of the Universe Classics Snake Face, King Hsss’s Medusa-esque henchman!  Now, his official sale day was last week, and although he lasted a while, he’s gone now.  But if you weren’t a subscriber and didn’t want to risk Matty Collector, right about now is the time when you’d start deciding if you want the figure.  Of course, there’s the secondary market price… though I got mine from a friend who happened to have an extra subscription, so mine came in just a few days after most subscribers got theirs.

As one of the Snake Men, Snake Face has a serpentine theme (wow, really?), though he stood out in that group because of his comparatively humanoid features – whereas the others were man-sized cobras or rattlers or whatever Tung Lashor was, Snake Face is clearly a humanoid Medusa-type.  He’s directly linked to Greek mythology, even if the original Gorgon was a girl.  As an aside note, he kind of looks good standing next to the old McFarlane Curse of the Spawn Medusa. As it turns out, both were sculpted by the Four Horsemen – sort of.  Snake Face is purely a horsemen design, and Medusa was rough-sculpted by Eric Treadaway, though she was finished by another McFarlane employee.  So, I guess they are a little related…   Anyway, Snake Face’s gimmick involves the snakes in his face – when Snake Face’s Face Snakes come out, he can turn people to stone.  You know, like Medusa.  It’s powerful enough to make him into King Hsss’ nuclear option, and his new official bio reflects that by turning him into Hsss’s right-hand man:

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Real Name: Cyltho Ssstavvve   Originally a minor training officer in the Unnamed One’s Serpent Army, Cyltho Ssstavvve drew King Hssss’ attention after he was enchanted with the ability to turn his enemies to stone by the Great Black Wizard. Quickly brought into Hssss’ inner circle, Snake Face™ often acted as the Viper King’s second in command during the Great Wars with Grayskull™. He was trapped with the entire Snake Army in the Void for five millennia, but eventually was called forth by King Hssss™ to do battle once again after their release – this time against new enemies – He-Man® and the Masters of Universe®! Snake Face™ slithers after his enemy, then turns him to stone!

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Although Snake Face never appeared in the old cartoon (it went off the air before his toy came out), he had appearances in the old mini-comics as well as the 2002 remake cartoon.  Toy-wise, he’s got his vintage figure, the 200X-era Staction, and now this.  The Staction is patterned after his appearance in the newer cartoon – sleek and more serpentine – whereas this figure, like most MOTUC figures, is slavishly designed to resemble the vintage toy.  Anyway, enough background – let’s talk about the toy!

PACKAGING: ****

Snake Face is packaged just the same as any other MOTUC figure – but hey, in case one or two people aren’t already familiar with this, let’s discuss it!

Masters of the Universe Classics figures come in several layers, like a nesting doll.  First there’s the big standard USPS mailer, and then a plain white box with the figure’s name on the front, and inside of that is the figure’s blister pack, designed just like something that would hang on store shelves.  It’s even got pictures of other toys in the line, which is hilarious since it’s not like you can order them!  Snake Face has his snaked-out head inside the package, but there’s enough clearance between snakes and the bubble that it should be undamaged.

SCULPT: ****

MOTUC is a line that prizes reused and repainted parts.  It’s actually amazing how well MOTUC figures recycle old parts and make original characters from them, though sometimes we get a few more new pieces than usual.  He’s got Skeletor’s legs and feet as well as Whiplash’s generic scaly torso, but otherwise is totally new!  Snake Face has new arms, with scales, fins, and snakes wrapped around his wrists, a scaly loincloth (chain mail?), and a new head sculpt.  Personally, I would have liked it if they went with Whiplash’s upper legs, since those legs have ridges like the ones on Snake Face’s arms, but this way is closer to the vintage figure this way.  Still, minimal reuse is a nice thing to see.

The new parts tilt Snake Face much closer to his vintage design than the 200X version, but that’s the way MOTUC works.  His face is quite detailed and expressive even for this line, brimming with creepy malice in both normal and snaked-out modes.  His big helmet hides his snake hair, and also shows off more serpents woven into it – if you look, Snake Face’s little green “ponytail” is clearly made up of the tails of the green snakes on his helmet!  It’s little touches like this that make these toys seem more three-dimensional than one would expect from an ’80s homage.

Snake Face’s armor is interesting, as apparently they had some trouble keeping it thin and sleek enough despite the action feature (more on the feature later).  As it is, it’s standard for MOTUC armor.  It’s not too bad, but he can’t really hold his arms down the whole way… but then, neither could Draego-Man, or Fang-Man, or Stinkor, or Horde Prime, or just about anybody else with a full breastplate.  It’s pretty nicely detailed, and sits naturally over his shoulders.  I appreciate the new scaly loincloth, which doesn’t get in the way of his articulation.

His Snaked-out face takes the old action feature and expands it – instead of little red pegs, these are huge snakes streaming out of his face, ready to bite!  They are made of flexible rubber, which causes me to say THANK YOU.

THANK YOU, MATTEL.

See, NECA Toys is a pretty good company, and they usually outdo Mattel on sculpting, paint, quality control, price, and pretty much everything else.  But one figure of theirs is the Tracker Predator – remember him?  The one from the new movie with the tusks on his mask?  Well, the toy’s tusks were sculpted from stiff, brittle plastic, and glued in place.  Most of them broke in the package (which lacked sufficient clearance – they scraped the bubble).  Mine has broken his tusks off three times, counting the initial package breakage.  I was worried about Snake Face’s face snakes, but as it turns out, they’re rubber, and durable enough to withstand getting crushed beneath a throw pillow and a tabby cat without any visible damage (Naughty kitty)!  Many kudos to Mattel for this – I give them a hard time when they mess things up, but this time they really hit it out of the park!

PAINT: ****

Snake face’s color palette is mostly made up of cool grays, greens, and shades of purple, with some yellow and red for his eyes and face snakes.  His arms and torso are gray-leaning-toward-lavender, with a mild green wash that makes him look green in general.  The colors are distinct, and bring out all the details of the sculpt – he looks unique among his Snake Men brethren, yet he still is sufficiently snaky enough to fit in.  Just about the only thing lacking would be some paint apps on those red face snakes, but would you really trust Mattel to paint on that small a surface?

ARTICULATION: ***1/2

Snake Face’s articulation is the MOTUC standard – swivel/ball-jointed shoulders, pegged elbows, swivel wrists, ab crunch, rotating waist, ball-jointed head, ball-jointed hips, pegged knees, swivel shins, and “rocker” ankles and feet.  Just like everybody else in this line, Snake Face can take a lot of varied, yet stable action poses.  Unfortunately, his armor restricts his arms a little bit, which costs him.  Way too many figures in this line run into the Arnold Schwarzenegger problem – Arnie actually had to lose some muscle mass to film Conan the Barbarian because his arms and pecs were too thick to wield a sword properly.  Snake Face’s articulation will always be outclassed by his shirtless brethren in the line, though this just means that he’s in the same company as Mekaneck, Castle Grayskullman, Battle Armor He-Man, and so on.

ACCESSORIES: ****

You know, with this line you never know what you’re gonna get.  Maybe a figure will have a cheap, repainted club.  Or maybe he’ll come with two heads, several sets of armor, more weapons than he can hold, and a cartoon artifact!  Snake Face is one of the more decked-out figures in this line, with two heads, spare snakes for his action feature, removable panels on his armor, a big snake staff, and a shield designed to look like his vintage accessory.   The vintage figure had two panels on his breastplate which were hinged to swing down and allow his chest-snakes to come out.  This figure has two removable panels, which reveal sockets for his spare snakes to plug in.  The panels blend in really well, and some reviewers didn’t know that they could be removed.  I have to agree that it’s not intuitive enough, mostly because the panels look natural, which is a good thing.  Mattel should have included some sort of instructions!  I’ve found that you don’t have to remove the panels completely – Personally, I dislodge them from their snake-holes and swivel them a out of the way so that they can stay on after I’ve plugged in his torso snakes.  This way, there aren’t any bare patches on the armor, and it looks like the panels move to the side to allow his snakes to come out when they need to.  I’m glad that you can do this, because it really looks cool that way.

Snake Face’s staff is the same one that has come with all the Snake Men.  It was cool when King Hsss had one, but now it just seems generic.  The staff is half a Caduceus, and probably cumbersome to bash people with.  Since Snake Face is a medusa monster and all, it makes me wonder – usually, you see Medusa armed with a bow and arrows so she can shoot people who aren’t looking, but why not give a Medusa monster a big sledgehammer instead?  You know, so they can crush anybody they stone, just so that nobody can ever turn them back again!  Maybe that’s what his big snake staff is for.

Snake Face’s shield looks just like the one that came with the vintage toy. It’s a cool design, but I’m sorry to say that it loosk small and cheap, and is hard to snap onto his wrist without scraping those green wrist-snakes.  I would have appreciated it more if the shield were larger or a more ornate, like on the 200X staction figure.  But this is a minor quibble, it’s okay enough – Snake face has everything he needs, after all.

FUN FACTOR: ****

Snake Face is one of the most “fun” MOTUC figures outside of the main core cast.  He’s got a good gimmick, a nice approximation of his old action feature, and he’s just creepy and cool all around.  And you just know that he and the McFarlane Medusa have a bright future head of them, but only if Snake face deals with his fear of committment.  Maybe Medusa shouldn’t nag him about getting a steady job or having children too early.

VALUE: **1/2

As a MOTUC figure, he costs….. eh, forget it, Jake.  It’s Chinatown.

I mean, forget it, Rid, it’s Mattel.  On Day of Sale, you could expect to pay $27, and then $10 for shipping, and then sales tax, which is nearly $40 for this figure.  NECA charges what, half that for bigger, more detailed work?  It’s a necessary evil when you consider MOTUC’s low production runs and the massive profit margins they require at Mattel, but it still stings.  Hard.  And the secondary market is always more expensive, so assume $40-$50 for this guy.  I’m really grateful that I got him pretty much at cost+extra shipping – he also came bundled with another figure, and ultimately I saved some money (the other figure would have cost more on the secondary market).  But yeah, these guys aren’t cheap, and it really hurts when you think about it.  There are over a hundred MOTUC figures so far, and the cost of a full collection is enough to cure anybody of completionism!

OVERALL:  ****

Overall?  Snake Face is one of the best Masters of the Universe Classics figures I’ve played with, up there with Draego-Man, Mer-Man, Castle Grayskullman, and others.  He’s creepy and menacing, has a fun action feature, and really stands out on the shelf with his new parts and unique coloration.  He’s durable, his accessories all function, and nothing came broken.  And hey, he goes really well with McFarlane’s Medusa.  Perhaps a little too well… Am I obsessed with this?  That’s for the courts to decide!

Where To Buy

UPDATE: If you are interested in buying the Masters of the Universe Classics Snake Face figure then your best bet is eBay. Click this link to search eBay for this Masters of the Universe Classics Snake Face figure.

By Nick Lenihan

Nick is toy fan, geek, and action figure collector. When not geeking out about action figures and keeping up with the latest Toy News, he likes to pretend to play guitar. He's just another one of those pop culture fanatics that likes to share his passion with the world.

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